Chancellor Gordon Brown today set out to woo the grey vote with a Budget promise of council tax refunds and free local bus travel for all pensioners.
In an openly electioneering Budget statement, the Chancellor (pictured) delighted Labour MPs by announcing a #200 rebate on the council tax for the elderly.
He coupled it with a promise that a re-elected Labour Government would bring in legislation for all pensioners and the disabled to travel free by bus from next year.
There was also carefully targeted help for low and middle income families, savers and house-buyers - with an immediate doubling of the stamp duty threshold from #60,000 to #120,000.
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The Chancellor announced that he was freezing a range of duties, including petrol duty, air passenger duty and the tax on spirits, cider and sparkling wine.
Other "sin" taxes were held in line with inflation with 1p on a pint of beer and 4p on a bottle of wine while the tax on cigarettes will go up by 7p on a packet of 20.
For business, he promised a "bonfire of the regulators", with the number of regulatory bodies to be slashed from 35 to just nine.
Mr Brown said that his Budget package struck a balance "between tax cuts that are affordable, investments that are essential and stability that is paramount".
However, Tory leader Michael Howard warned that the Government's spending plans meant that taxes would have to go up again if Labour was re-elected.
Mr Howard said: "The simple fact is that if Labour get in again, taxes go up again.
"This Budget is not about what's good for our country. It's all about the interests of the Labour Party."
Mr Brown's statement was underpinned with buoyant forecasts for the economy and public finances.
He predicted economic growth of 3 to 3.5% this year and 2.5% to 3% next year, while he forecast that borrowing was set to fall from #34 billion this year to #22 billion over the next five years.
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